Age Gracefully with Menopause

For over 5000 years, Ayurveda has acknowledged menopause as a natural transition and not as a mistake of Mother Nature that requires hormone replacement therapy…..

 

Why menopause may be essential to humankind?

As women of the past aged, they probably carried on delivering children as well as having to continue taking care of the older ones. But also it is a fact that the likelihood of non-survival as a result of pregnancy or labor increases for a woman as she ages, as do the chances of her new infant failing to thrive or survive. If she does die, she endangers the survival of her existing children whose chances improve if she stops having children while she is still relatively healthy and vital. The older mother is risking more for less potential gain. That is one set of factors that would tend to favor human female menopause.

 

Menopause also serves a woman her personal evolution, for as age advances ‘ojas’ or ‘vigour’ or the ‘essential energy of the body’ retreats. When it no longer contains sufficient ‘ojas’ to contribute to the production of a new life, a woman’s body shuts down its reproductive capabilities and redirects its ‘ojas’ to other projects

 

From a physiological point of view, menopause is the ending of a woman’s menstrual cycle and ovulation which is a phase of deficiency of estrogen hormone that occurs at the age of 45-55 years. It brings both physical and mental changes due to the fact that the body begins producing less amount of certain hormones mainly estrogen and progesterone.

 

Stating a positive view of menopause, many experts affirm that it is not natural to get weak bones, heart disease and rapid aging after menopause. Rather all these problems develop over a life time, resulting largely from poor diet, stress and lack of physical exercise. For some it leads to freedom and confidence but for others it is a midlife emotional crisis with many health problems.

 

Ayurveda treats menopause as a period of transition that can be health promoting and has a well articulated approach to the management of menopause.

 

Menopause can occur prior to its usual time owing to some surgical process undergone by a process. Hysterectomy is an example of such a process

 

What is healthy menopause?

In an ideally healthy menopause process, a woman of the age of 45 or over will begin skipping menstrual periods. She may notice some hot flushes and night sweats particularly if she is a ‘pitta’ prakruti woman. Gradually the flow will become lighter, number of days of menstrual bleeding will diminish, menstrual periods will space out and eventually will cease. Once a woman has not experienced menstrual bleeding for a whole year she is said to have attained menopause.

 

Menopause sometimes is also termed as ‘The Change’. And even for the healthiest person, it is a ‘vata’ process. Menopause process announces the transition between the ‘pitta’ and ‘vata’ time of life. Typical ‘vata’ symptoms include vaginal dryness, insomnia and sudden onset of age related mental disorders

 

Symptoms of Menopause

At first there is irregularity in the pattern of the periods. One might experience infrequent periods or might even have them more frequently. After these early signals there could be,

 

  • Hot flushes or sudden feeling of heat in the face and upper part of the body for a few minutes causing sweating and disturbed sleep.
  • Vaginal dryness with itchy feeling and pain during intercourse.
  • Loss in bladder control causing leaks in urine, especially when sneezing and coughing.
  • Change in hormonal levels with unexplained mood swings, irritability, depression, forgetfulness and exhaustion

 

Ayurvedic View

Ayurveda links menopause with aging and aging is a ‘vata’ predominant stage of life. In contemporary Ayurvedic medicine, a treatment course will generally be based on individual dosha imbalance rather than treatment of specific symptoms. Recognizing which dosha dominates the woman’s system in menopause will help identify which treatment best matches her constitution and is most likely to ease her symptoms.

 

A smooth menopause transition and great health in the years to come can be achieved with the help of:

  • Balancing dosha (Mind/body system is in balance)
  • Balancing diet (Diet is wholesome and rich in phytoestrogens)
  • Panchakarma (Body is clean and uncluttered inside)

 

Ascertain the imbalanced dosha according to the symptoms and follow the advice to balance the doshas.

 

BALANCING DOSHAS

Vata type:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Poor skin tone
  • Constipation
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Joint ache

 

Recommendations:

Cumin, fennel, cardamom should be included in cooking

Avoid caffeine, cold drinks, dry food, include frequent small meals

Going to bed early can help balance excess vata

Useful herbs: Aloe vera, Ashwagandha, Guggulu, Vidari, Shatavari, Arjuna should be used to control vata.

 

Pitta type:

  • Hot flushes
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Heavy periods

 

Recommendation:

Massage with coconut, sandalwood or sesame oil

Avoid alcohol, pungent, sour, salty, hot, spicy food

Consume plenty of water and fruit juices (grapes, melon, plums etc)

Practice meditation and stress reducing techniques

Moderate yoga should be performed

Avoid excessive exposure to sun

Useful herbs: Shatavari, Chandana, Aloe vera, Vidari

 

Kapha type:

  • Weight gain
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Slow digestion
  • Depression

 

Recommendation:

Consume light, dry, warm food

Avoid sweet, sour, cold, oily food

Include spices like black pepper, turmeric, and ginger in day today life

Should have small meals and finish all meals by 6 pm

Exercise regularly

Useful herbs: Ginger, Black pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Guggulu, Ashwagandha, and Mustard

 

BALANCING DIET

Eating and avoiding certain types of foods can make the menopause a lot more bearable.

Hot flushes: Avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate etc. especially at night as they provoke hot flushes.

Tiredness: Avoid snacking on sugary foods-often a sharp rise in blood glucose may be followed by a sharp dip and leave you feeling tired and drained, so instead consume fresh fruits.

Weight gain: Many people associate the menopause with weight gain but as we get older we need few calories. Eating a bit less will help.

Irritation: To help you feel less irritable, eat breakfast, eat little and often to balance your blood sugar.

Thinning bones: Avoid frizzy drinks as they prevent the body from absorbing magnesium and calcium that are important for bone strength.

 

Japanese women rarely experience hot flushes etc probably because their diet contains large amount of soy protein, a food rich in certain plant estrogen. This is also found in a variety of whole foods including grains, cereals, dried beans, flax seeds, lentils, peanuts, vegetable such as sweet potato, carrots, garlic, and fruits such as strawberries, pears and plums.

All these above are rich in phytoestrogen i.e. plant estrogens. Variety and moderation are important as too much of phytoestrogen is unhealthy

 

PANCHAKARMA

Serious symptoms such as frequent hot flushes, continuous sleep disturbance, severe mood swings are signs of deeper imbalance. According to Ayurveda, all these symptoms are usually due to build up of waste and toxins referred as ‘Ama’ in the body’s tissue. In this case, detoxification is required which can be carried out through Panchakarma. This helps to clear the body’s channels by the various internal cleansing processes.

 

The best Panchakarma therapy for menopause is a gentle body massage and Shirodhara (continuous flow of medicated oil, decoction, and buttermilk on the head) which soothes and calms the brain.

 

Regimen

Many of the changes are related to age and not to menopause.

Regular exercise is recommended: it decreases blood cholesterol, decreases bone loss, improves ability to deal with stress, depression, anxiety and weight gain. Exercise also improves circulation and heart function.

 

Herbs used:

Herbs used for menopause have properties that help in strengthening and rejuvenating the female reproductive system. Apart from this, they regulate the hormones too.

 

Soybean: It has phytoestrogen that almost replicates the property of estrogen. Thus it naturally helps the needs of estrogen in the body.

Asoka: Asoka is considered as the best drug for all gynecological disorders in Ayurveda. It calms down the symptoms owing to menopausal and post menopausal stress. It also keeps a tab on the hormones keeping their level in normalcy.

Asparagus root: It gives strength to the uterus and female reproductive organs.

Ashwagandha: known as the Indian ginseng, it helps to relieve stress and restore calm to those experiencing erratic or unstable hormonal balance.

 

Medicines that can be prescribed

Chandraprabha vati- It helps in reducing vata vitiation which is one of the foremost causes of menopausal problems.

Dashamula arista- To increase the strength of the body

Gokshuradi guggulu- For any infections that may occur in vagina during menopause.

Chandanadi taila: Massage with this oil helps to allay insomnia and mood swings which can occur due to ‘vata’ vitiation

 

Menopause Myths

  1. You cannot get pregnant after the menopause
    It can and does happen, so carry on using contraception for two years after your last period if you are under 50 and for one year if you are over 50.
  1. You are going to put on weight
    Middle-age spread is often linked to the hormonal changes at this time of life but, as yet, there is no proof of this. Those extra inches could just be part of growing older and being less active.
  1. Your menopause will be difficult because your mum’s was
    There is no evidence that this is the case, although the age at which your mother went through the menopause could give you a clue as to when to expect symptoms. This is because the age of menopause tends to be similar in mothers and daughters.

 

For a personalized, natural approach for your menopause treatment with the right diet, lifestyle and Ayurvedic herbs, book an appointment with our OB/GYN specialists at I-AIM Healthcare, call 080-28567000 or visit: www.iaimhealthcare.org

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